More than two-dozen of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies have agreed to help fund Interpol’s newly created Pharmaceutical Crime program to the tune of $5.9 million over the next three years. The program is aimed at helping health agencies, police and custom bureaus around the globe put an end to the trafficking of bogus meds.
The amount, however, pales when you consider that authorities now estimate that the sales of counterfeit, contaminated, or otherwise illegal drugs total $430 billion a year.
Still, the pledged funds will enable the international police agency to train local law enforcement officials on investigation techniques, evidence handling and how to work with colleagues outside their home countries. In addition, Interpol will help those authorities “build up infrastructure and target enforcement against crime rings that make and sell fake medications, etc,” according to Aline Plancon, head of Interpol’s counterfeiting and pharmaceutical crime program.
Not only do the counterfeiting rings cost legitimate drugmakers a small fortune in loss sales, but they also cost hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting people their lives due to poisoning as well as from the fact that they are not receiving the medications the doctors prescribe. In fact the World Health Organization estimates that nearly 50% of the drug supply in developing countries may be fake, while the most dangerous of the counterfeit meds are sold to those in developed nations through “rogue” online pharmacies.